Resolutions I Should Have Made at My New Year's Eve Wedding
Along one wall of our wedding venue, I had set up a board where guests could write down their resolutions. But when I went to add my name to the list, I drew a blank. I couldn't use any of those old promises -- I'd tried them all before, and they never stuck. And on the most important New Year's Eve of my life, I needed an intention more special than a diet.
I didn't want to resolve to "be a good wife," which dripped with notions of antiquated gender roles. I also knew I wasn't going to eat more vegetables or finish my novel. When the last of our guests collected their coats and said goodbye, I still hadn't written anything.
Having just celebrated my first wedding anniversary, I've had time to reflect on my marriage and what I contribute to it. Here are the resolutions I should have made that night.
I will not compare my marriage to others
I used to be jealous of other couples' photos on Facebook and Instagram. I compared my life to theirs and felt like I came up short in one way or another. But as I've gotten older and grown into my own relationship with my partner, I've realized what's wrong with coveting other people's connections.
As much as they can, people show you only what they want you to see. Katie from high school may be bombarding your social media feed with sweet statuses and perfect pictures of her and her husband, but in reality they’re struggling to overcome an infidelity. No marriage is perfect -- no matter how it may appear.
Secondly, it is pointless (and sometimes harmful) to use someone else’s marriage as a yardstick by which to measure your own. What works for one couple may be disastrous for another. You have to figure out how you operate best as a pair and let the rest fall away.
I will take time for myself
Being married means I have a partner to share my life with. That doesn't mean I have to share my whole life with him. I've always been an independent person, and it's important for me not to lose my identity in someone else.
I still want to take girls-only trips, make new friends on my own, and move forward in my career. I need to remember to nourish myself as an individual and my friendships outside of my marriage -- even if it's something as simple as driving over to my best friend's house and binge-watching Bravo one night a week.
I will ask for what I want
Partners are not mind readers. No matter how intimately my husband knows me, I can't expect him to interpret "I'm fine" as actually meaning "I need you to ask me if I'm OK three more times because I'm feeling sad, but I'm also vulnerable and don't know how to give words to my emotions right now."
Waiting for someone to guess why you're upset is only prolonging your bad mood, and will probably just frustrate your partner. I try to remind myself to speak up when I need something from my husband, whether it's more help around the house or extra encouragement when I'm stressed.
Do I always do this? Definitely not; I'm the master of "I'm fine." But the more I work on this and tell my partner when I need something, the less I will feel neglected, ignored, or lonely.
I will pick my battles
My mentor in graduate school once said, "The key to marriage isn't true love. It isn't honesty or adventure or trust. The key to marriage is figuring out how to live with that person's glob of toothpaste in the sink, or their wet towels on the bathroom floor, for the rest of your life. When you can say, 'Yes, I hate that glob of toothpaste, but I can deal with it,' then you've figured out how to survive marriage."
Does it drive me up the wall that the floor on my husband's side of the bed is a gathering place for his shoes, gym clothes, headphones, and any other miscellaneous items he's too lazy to put away? Yes. Does it make me crazy when he wears sweats for dinner in the city while I'm in a dress and heels? Absolutely.
But those things just aren't worth a big fight. Whenever I get worked up over something petty, like if I'm late for work, my husband will stop me and say, "Is this going to matter 10 years from now?" It seems so simple, but qualifying things that way really does help me stop sweating the small stuff.
Marriage is more than just one day in a pretty dress and an open bar. No matter how much you love each other, it takes work and patience, and an obscene number of mistakes are bound to be made. Resolutions aren't just for New Year's Eve anymore; I have to remember the vows that I made to my husband and to myself every single day.
And if I have to get a tattoo that says, "Ignore the toothpaste glob," so be it.
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